How to Remove Paint from Jewelry

Written by: Sue Fritz | | Jewelry

Remove Your Ring When Painting

There are dozens of excuses for not removing your jewelry when you start a project, and we’ve all used them. We had nowhere safe to set it down; we thought it would be a quick, foolproof project; we figured nothing would go wrong. But none of those excuses matter when you realize you’ve gotten paint on your engagement ring! While you can’t go back and un-spill the paint, you can follow these steps to safely remove paint from your jewelry.

Know What Kind of Paint You Used

Different substances remove different kinds of paint. Most acrylic craft paints are water-based, while indoor and outdoor house paints tend to be oil or latex based.  Check the label to see if the paint you used is oil-based, latex-based, or water-based.

Know Your Jewelry

While a small amount of detergent won’t hurt 14k gold or sterling silver, it could damage porous gemstones like pearl, opal, and amber. Gentle solvents may not hurt diamonds, but they can dissolve any adhesive used in your jewelry’s setting. Take notice of what your jewelry is made of to ensure that you don’t use a chemical too harsh for your precious piece.

Start Slow

Use your fingernail to peel off the paint, starting at the edge. You can also try a toothpick – the soft wood won’t scratch your gold or stones. (Don’t use a toothpick to clean in or around the prongs of a raised setting; the pressure could bend the prongs, warping your ring and loosening your stone.) You may be surprised at how easily dried paint chips off of your jewelry! If the paint lifts, be encouraged; it will likely continue to wear off over time with no lasting damage.

If the dried paint does not chip off, try soaking your jewelry in hot water with a small amount of dish soap. Most acrylic and latex based paints can be removed with soap and water. After your jewelry has soaked for five minutes, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to loosen the paint. Do not soak your jewelry for more than 5 minutes. Soaking for longer won’t clean it any better, and it could deteriorate certain metals.

Better Safe than Sorry

When in doubt, take your jewelry to an expert. Your local jeweler has gentle cleaning solutions and lots of expertise. A jeweler will be able to safely disassemble your ring to remove paint that you won’t be able to reach. Your jeweler may also have an ultrasound machine, which shakes paint out of tiny crevices and ornate work. Who knew?

Don’t take risks with your most precious pieces of jewelry. Most pieces can be professionally cleaned for less than $50. So whether you accidentally dipped your necklace in the paint can, or the mist from the spray paint infiltrated your setting, don’t be afraid to contact your local jeweler.

If you are considering jewelry insurance, look for coverage that includes sudden damage, in case your jewelry ever requires extensive repair, rebuilding, or replacement. And the next time you’re painting, push those excuses aside and take off your jewelry!

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